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Helping those involved in the distribution of foreign aid understand its theory and practice is the aim of a special one-day course at Crawford School on 16 May 2014.
The course, Aid policy: insights for policymakers and practitioners will be presented by Professor Stephen Howes, Director of the Development Policy Centre at Crawford School. Howes said that with a substantial Australian aid budget that crosses multiple government departments, it’s important that public servants learn more about aid theory and practice.
“Australia gives about $5 billion of foreign aid every year, so [aid] is a substantial investment the government’s making,” he said.
“You’ll find most [Government] departments now have some sort of involvement with the aid program, [but] what I find is that most people who are working on aid aren’t really aware of is the theory of aid or the practise of aid. They might be sector specialists in health, education or finance. Or they’ve come in to the aid program and they’re generalists so they have a good general knowledge.”
Howes, who has worked in the aid sector for decades with various aid agencies including the World Bank and AusAID, says that the purpose of his Executive Education course is to introduce people who are working on or interested in aid to its theory and practise.
“[The course] compresses a lot of information into a single day so you can really focus on the fundamentals,” he said.
“I [also] find that most of the people doing the course are people who are working on aid so they bring a lot of experience and different perspectives which is really useful.“
Howes said that it’s important for those working in the aid arena to be aware of the challenges within the field as well as the many different schools of thought.
“I try to cover the main aid debates,” he said.
“Aid is not an area where everyone agrees on everything. In fact it’s the opposite. There are some really fundamental debates.”
“I hope the course gives students the basic awareness of the key aid debates.”